Maryland has one of the highest rates of “domestic” human trafficking in the nation. Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, includes both forced labor and sex trafficking. January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and For All Seasons is raising public awareness of this global issue as well as sharing its impact locally. Over the last three years, there have been sex trafficking arrests across the Eastern Shore including in Easton, Cambridge, Federalsburg, Denton, and Salisbury.
According to President Biden’s “The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking” report, “A 2019 Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) study found that about 72 percent of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline were related to sex trafficking, 11 percent related to labor trafficking, four percent were both, and 13 percent were unspecified.” The report reveals that human trafficking disproportionately impacts racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls, LGBTQI individuals, vulnerable migrants, and others from historically marginalized and underserved communities and is increasingly becoming a part of our global supply chains.
The President’s report further explains that human traffickers can be relatives, friends, politically connected individuals in their country of origin, individuals operating alone, those in loosely affiliated groups or as part of gangs, or transnational criminal organizations. They control their victims by physically isolating and/or emotionally manipulating them, offering false promises of love, threatening a victim with various forms of harm, and controlling a victim’s substance use.
Again this year, For All Seasons is sponsoring its Red Sand Project to educate the public and bring awareness about human trafficking. Participants pour red sand into sidewalk cracks and use the time to start a discussion about the causes and effects of human trafficking and exploitation. The red sand represents the victims of human trafficking who have slipped through the cracks, yet may still be hiding in plain sight.
Jonathan Qvarnstrom, Marketing, and Outreach Associate, who is coordinating the project, states, “In addition to local businesses, we have reached out to all five counties, including the state’s attorney’s offices and sheriff departments in each county. These are agencies that frequently deal with human trafficking issues in our communities. We appreciate their involvement in the project and ongoing support for the victims of human trafficking.”
Red flags of a human trafficking situation can be homeless youth, truancy, chronic runaways, appearing scared or nervous, tattoos or branding, withdrawing from family, school, or church, and always appearing tired. A victim who calls For All Seasons’ hotline gets help with creating a safety plan if that is what they are comfortable doing at the time.
Red sand packets are available through the end of January. If you are interested in participating, contact Jonathan Qvarnstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about human trafficking, visit www.eshttf.org or http://www.mdhumantrafficking.org/. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888.
For crisis support on the Mid-Shore, contact For All Seasons’ 24-Hour Hotlines: 410.820.5600 for English or 410.829.6143 for Spanish or to text in English and Spanish.